At a dinner conversation with some new friends up in SLC on Friday, one of those four hour-long data dumps where the time flies and you find you still have much to talk about, I got sidetracked on a story and it never got told that night. But I’ve been mulling it over ever since.
Actually, it’s a series of small vignettes: the Lions Club in Choteau, Montana raising nearly a million dollars in a small rural county to rebuild the community swimming pool; my friend Monte Bona banging the drum to crate the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area; the 4th of July ice cream social I attended in Williams, AZ.
Up and down the highway, it was the same: great things were going on in very small towns, and it only took one or two people to get the ball rolling. They didn’t do it alone, but they had a way of saying, “we’re going thattaway,” and good stuff happened.
After a while on my Highway 89 adventures, it was easy to tell which little towns had those one or two individuals, or more to the point, which ones didn’t. Those are the drive-by towns, the ones that I never seemed to find much reason to spend any time.
Are these few folks natural born leaders? Having met a lot of them over the years, I think mostly not. They seem to grow into the job by doing it. If I’m right, just about anyone with a plan can make cool stuff happen, given enough enthusiasm, some follow-through and a tiny amount of luck. What do you want to see in your hometown? Why not make it happen?